Yesterday I had a day off.
Granted, it is the weekend, so I’m entitled. But I don’t usually sit still much on the weekends.
Instead, yesterday I ignored my usual length list of jobs, faffed about for hours, watched two episodes of Buffy in the middle of the day, read a bit, joined the City Library, stayed in my pyjamas until after lunch and ate chocolate. I did not at any point think it was a valuable part of my creative process. I was just a blob.
I didn’t chainsaw the fallen tree or go to the trainer or sort out the compost or do the washing or harvest the winter vegies or make the soup or clean out the chook house or catch up on my research or file my papers or bake banana bread. My partner is away so I hardly spoke to anyone. I didn’t leave the house. Well, I couldn’t, since I was still in my dressing gown.
My brain needed a rest. Space. Nothing.
Serendipitously, Sarah Wilson’s column in the Sunday Age this morning is on that very topic.
When we yearn for more space we want to keep it as … a languid void that exists between us and everything else… it’s the expanse between us and sunset. Or between us and someone we fall in love with while watching them being “them” from across the room.
So that was my yesterday.
This morning I woke up with a book in my head. That happens sometimes.
JK Rowling says Harry Potter “strolled, fully-formed” into her head on a long train trip and by the time she got to the station (presumably King’s Cross) she knew pretty much everything that happened to him, including the last line of the last book.
I can’t quite claim that. I should admit that my brain has been riffing on something for ages that I thought was little more than unspoken Dickens fan-fiction.
Now suddenly it’s something else. I’ve had scenes playing in my head, over and over, literally for months and I failed to recognise them for what they are: a new story. It has shape, is filled with dialogue and characters, but I hadn’t given it enough imaginative space – or perhaps distance – to see it from the right angle.
So I wrote down:
- Marvellous Melbourne
- Red herrings
- The maid
- Heidelberg School
Now all I have to do is scribble down the other 75, 986 words. In my spare time.
Not today, though. I’ve got too many jobs.